Loughborough Students 51 Fylde 17: Full report and reaction

Fylde's Dave Fairbrother scores for the Royal Navy  Picture: Royal Navy Rugby Union
Fylde's Dave Fairbrother scores for the Royal Navy Picture: Royal Navy Rugby Union
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Fylde travelled to Loughborough University and were taught a serious lesson by the highly motivated Students in this final fixture of the National One season.

This was the Students ‘graduation ceremony’ and a hapless first half-hour performance by Fylde enabled them to make merry.

By the 27th minute, Loughborough had scored seven tries and led by 45-0. This was not the way Fylde will want to remember a season of spluttering form, with good and bad displays both at the Woodlands and on the road.

Long since secure in mid-table, there was never much doubt that Fylde would end the season with a fourth defeat in five games.

Things started ominously when the Students pack turned a scrum in the second minute and their number eight Matt Rogerson picked up and drove over.

Two minutes later, Students centre George Eastwell made a break and scrum-half Cameron Dobingson was in support to score. His half-back partner, fly-half Will Edwards, converted to make it 12-0 lead after just four minutes.

They extended this in the 12th minute, when a break from the other centre, Blair Hutchinson, set up England U20s winger Paolo Odogwu up to get over in the corner. Edwards converted from the touchline for a 19-0 advantage.

Fylde were unable to establish any continuity in possession and territory as they made errors and took wrong decisions.

The Students capitalised and were soon racking up even more points. Flanker Andrew Boyce was on the end of a quality pass and got over the whitewash for the bonus- point try, with Edwards again adding the extras.

From the 22nd minute the floodgates really opened. Full-back Jack Pons strode through the visitors- defence before winger Odogwu twice got into the corners for tries to make up his hat-trick.

With two of these converted, Loughborough had a 45-0 lead and total humiliation was on the cards before Fylde’s cavalry was called in. The experienced Chris Johnson and Simon Griffiths came off the bench with young hooker Ben Gregory.

Just before the interval the youngster battered his way over in the corner for a debut try. The scoreboard still looked bleak for the visitors at 45-5 as the players trooped off to the changing rooms.

Things got worse for Fylde five minutes into the second half as Rogerson and Boyce combined to set up replacement back Jack Wardle, who scored in the corner to bring up the half-century.

Assisted by the sinbinning of Rogerson in the 56th minute, Fylde managed to establish something like equality in scrummages and lineouts. But it was Wardle who scored next, when he intercepted a stray Fylde pass and scored easil.

Fylde heads didn’t drop and they began to exert their own pressure. In the 68th minute, replacement backrower Henry Spencer was sinbinned and Fylde took advantage. As the Fylde were awarded a penalty try from a collapsed scrum, with Chris Johnson adding the extras.

In the 76th minute, a cleverly move enabled winger Jordan Dorrington to score in the corner. Johnson converted from the touchline to close out the game and give Fylde a small degree of consolation.

Backs coach Warren Spragg said: “We are all very disappointed, especially in our performance in the first half. We were inaccurate all over the pitch and the set-pieces went wrong, so we had no platform to play off.

“The defence was poor as we missed a number of one up tackles during the first 40- minutes. The Students were saying goodbye to six or seven players and they were very motivated for a big win.

“We were much better in the second half and young hooker Ben Gregory had an impressive senior debut. As soon as we had some parity of possession we were able to play something like our normal game. This was a reflection of the season overall.

“The coaches are proud of the efforts of the players this season. As a coaching group we are inexperienced and we have been learning on the job in this very competitive division. With plans in hand for strengthening the squad, we are very excited about the prospects for next season.”

Fylde: Briers; Dorrington, Bedlow, S Rawlings, Brennand; Morton, Nicholls; Wild, Maher, Lewis, Garrod, Gray, Goodman, Stewart, G Rawlings; Replacements: Giffiths, Gregory, Vernon, Dowds, Johnson.

Fylde RFC forward Dave Fairbrother turned in a man-of-the-match performance to inspire the Royal Navy to be inter-service champions after a pulsating contest at Twickenham in front of 82,000 spectators.

The match between the Royal Navy and the Army ended 29-29, so the teams shared the Babcock Trophy. But it was the senior service who won the overall championship, with Royal Marine Fairbrother in outstanding form.

Despite receiving a yellow card, the Fleetwood RUFC product put his personal seal on the match.

The back-rower spearheaded a remarkable revival by the Royal Navy, who looked to be heading for defeat as they trailed 26-7 well into the second half.

The Army still looked the likely winners as they edged ahead 29-26 with a penalty on 78 minutes.

But the Royal Navy levelled with a 45-metre penalty after The Army infringed at the restart.